Old Me

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

A really great friend posted an Emily McDowell quote about the concept of  New Year/New You and how it’s great and all, but the old you got you through everything up till now, so don’t forget about celebrating her.

I try not to do New Years Resolutions because they have like, a 95% failure rate (that’s a figure I just pulled out of my ass, nothing scientific to back it up, but it seems about right.)  But, like a lot of other people, I tend to reflect on the previous year on New Years Eve.

This year was a lot about survival for me.  But a different sort of survival.  I’ve spent a lot of years trying to make sure we stayed alive with a roof over our head and food to eat and basic lowest level Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs stuff, but this was the first year I got really suicidal and didn’t run inpatient because I realized that the thoughts weren’t going to kill me, as scary as they are.   

This year was about surviving my own brain and a lot of what old me has gotten me through in the past has absolutely gotten me through this year.  And I’m not sure why my eyes just welled up with tears typing that sentence, but it’s true.

Growth is amazing, and I’m learning and growing so much.  I wouldn’t still be alive if I hadn’t started living and growing and moving, or at the very least it wouldn’t be much of a life.  But being able to sit in misery and not make it worse, is actually a skill.  And it’s one I had to get good at for a lot of years. 

Don’t dig myself in deeper while trying to survive the pit of shit I’m in now.   

As much as I keep growing, the core of who I am is still the same.  As good and as bad as that is.  I’m a survivor, and sometimes those old skills keep me stuck, but sometimes they are just what I need to get me through the day.

While I’m throwing out the old to make room for the new, I need to keep in mind that a lot of that old stuff kept me alive this long.  And yeah, it’s going to take new skills to truly thrive, but I can’t forget about celebrating the old me that stayed alive to get me to this point.

     

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I’m kind of miserable.  

Not fully miserable because I don’t quite want to die at the moment, but just that in between.  Where I’m afraid I’m on my way down again. 

I don’t think I realized how much of a roller coaster this is, or how regularly it happens until I started writing about it.

And I feel like by now you have to be sick of hearing about it.  And at times I’m sick of living it.

But right now I’m not really sick of living, I’m just sick of living this particular part of my life.

I wish I could just go to the gym enough and it would be all better. Or take the right pills and it would be all better. Or say the right things to my therapist and it would be all better.

But that’s not how this works.

There may never be an all better, there’s just a not worse, a better than it was, a good enough.  And sometimes there’s just, not dead.

I feel like I’m doing the right things, but I’m sure I’m missing something.  I’m pushing myself, I’m getting out of the house, I’m letting myself rest, I’m making a to do list and checking things off, I’m going to the gym more days than not.

And the fact is, I’m still depressed.

I’m still walking through fog again, teary eyed and having a hard time functioning, having a hard time keeping myself from crawling under the covers every chance I get because the bed feels so warm and comfortable.
Sleep is filled with strange dreams, and it’s far from restful.  I wake up and just want to sleep more.  Getting out of bed is as hard as climbing a mountain.

I have to put on my armor to leave the house.  You know the armor I talk about, the wild clothes and the makeup and the earrings, the way I’ve learned to camouflage myself by standing out in the crowd.

I’m still leaving the house most days though.  I’m still making plans and trying to go and see people.  This time of year is so so hard and it’s not even that cold yet. 

I’m tired, and I’m sad, and I’m not really sure how to fight off the part of my brain that’s just done. 

Not done living, but just done.  I’m bored with it all.

Is 8pm too early for bed? 

Video Games

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

This is one of those posts that’s been rolling around in my head for a few days now, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it, but I knew I needed to get it out, somehow.

Parker and I spent hours upon hours and days upon days immersed in Guild Wars 2 and after she died I tried to play for a few months but quickly realized that memories of her were waiting around every corner and I could no longer play.

Her last night alive I had logged into the game and left a hidden “I love you” for her to find the next time she logged on, and she wasn’t alive long enough to find it.

I have real life friends who I met in the game, people who grieved the loss of Parker right along side me. We spent a lot of time with these people, talking over the mic, discussing real lives and virtual lives and some of them I even met up with in person. It was just a game, but it was more than that, it was a game we played together. It was our space, something we spent time in, something we loved, discussing, cooperating, competing with each other.

Her ghost was everywhere.

I don’t watch TV, I can’t always get into books, and whenever I would look for something to get into for downtime, I would miss my days in the game. I tried to go back a few times but it never felt right. I tried other games, but there aren’t many games like it, that have the kind of community I found there. I tried repeatedly but couldn’t find what I was looking for.

But over time I’ve been able to play for an hour here, without connecting everything to her, or for a few hours there, without seeing her.

I’ve been playing the last few days and just realized that it’s no longer our game.

Her ghost no longer waits around the corner for me. I no longer connect all of the events or items to her.

It’s bittersweet.

Sometimes I’ll remember that she was good at this or that, and miss having her here to help me, or remember the times that I helped her with some other thing. But it’s no longer constant. I’ll remember the funny joke she made, or something she used to do.

And I can smile and keep going.

And yeah, it’s just a game, but it’s one more area I’ve gotten back from the grasp of grief. Slowly, one thing at a time I’ve had to take back all of the things that were ours. I had to find the new normal, I had to make them just mine.

It’s something I never wanted to do. But I haven’t had a choice.

I’m glad I got the game back.

There’s another post that needs to be written about me and gaming and moderation and mental health, but that’s a whole different thing.

Widowhood is strange. It’s a positive feeling when I manage to separate Parker from something so that I can have it back as something enjoyable, but at the same time it’s heartbreaking that I’ve been able to separate her from it.

Finding the new normal, still, two and a half years later.

Music

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Music speaks to me.  

I hear certain songs and the lyrics grab me and I feel the need to share them with the world, and then I can’t understand why no one gets them the way I do.

I feel like the artist is speaking just to me, just to my situation.

Of course, that’s what they’re going for.

P!nk is my favorite artist (go figure) and I often rotate through which one of her songs is my favorite, but lately, in the mornings when I’m listening to her playlist while cleaning up the kitchen and getting myself coffee and breakfast, it catches me off guard every single time when “Who Knew” comes on.


“If someone said three years from now
You’d be long gone
I’d stand up and punch them out
‘Cause they’re all wrong and
That last kiss
I’ll cherish
Until we meet again
And time makes
It harder
I wish I could remember
But I keep
Your memory
You visit me in my sleep
My darling
Who knew”

It reaches in and grabs the part of me that’s still grieving.  The part of me that has a hard time remembering.  The part of me that honestly doesn’t remember the last time we kissed.

But there are other songs, happier songs, more uplifting songs that pull out the Self Saving Warrior Princess in me.  Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song” got me through the second half of 2016 and a good part of 2017.  “I Am Here” also by P!nk has been my battle anthem lately.

” I am here, I am here
I’ve already seen the bottom, so there’s nothing to fear
Know that I’ll be ready when the devil is near
I am here, I am here
All of this wrong, but I’m still right here
I don’t have the answers, but the question is clear”

Mostly it’s the lyrics that grab me. I’m not worried about the beat. There have been Contemporary Christian songs that have a certain verse or chorus that rip my heart out and make me sing along, country songs that have me in tears, rap, and heavy metal. Very few genres that don’t grab me at least occasionally.

Sometimes there’s an entire album. After the lead singer to Linkin Park died by suicide, Mike Shinoda, another vocalist for the group, wrote an album titled “Post Traumatic” primarily about grief and the after effects of losing someone. It was released right around the 2 year mark of Parker’s death and it was the perfect time for me to listen to an album like that. Allowing me to process all of the emotions I had felt in the previous 2 years.

I’m finding that writing is more of my way of processing now. There are still songs that grab me but I also spend more time listening to music without lyrics, music as background noise. I no longer need other people’s words to get my feelings out.

I’ve found more of my own.

But music is still a huge part of who I am.

Nothing

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

Sometimes it comes out of nowhere.  No real cause, nothing to set it off.

I’m just,

Angry.  Grumpy.  Frustrated.

But also,

Sad. Hurting. Alone.

I feel overwhelmed but nothing and everything is the cause.

I’m just sitting here, and I was fine, but now I’m not.

And my reaction is to withdraw, crawl inside of myself, close the world out, don’t let anyone in.  I’m alone and I want to be more alone.

Except,

I don’t.

I want, need, crave connection when I feel like this,
but I don’t know how to ask for it.

My words leave me.

I want to push everyone and everything away, but really I just want to be held tight so that I have something to push against for a little while.

I just need to feel safe enough to be angry at nothing.

Because anger still doesn’t feel safe.

Are you mad?

This is a Really Real Mental Health Post.

I have a really bad habit of assuming everyone else is thinking what I’m assuming they are thinking.

So if someone doesn’t react they way I expect them to, I think they must be mad at me.

Twice recently, when I’ve spoken up about it, I’ve found out that what really happened was a miscommunication, often based around assumptions, and when it goes on long enough, a rift forms in the relationship that can last until someone speaks up.

That doesn’t mean I always have to be the one to break the silence, it’s not my responsibility to fix everything.  Not every relationship needs to be fixed or cured, not every relationship is healthy.

But communication helps and assuming I know what others are thinking isn’t helpful in the least.

I’m working on it.

It’s easy to assume negative intentions of those around me when so much negative has happened in the past.

The only things I truly know are things I can physically see, the rest are assumptions which are often wrong.  I can see someone being speaking less than usual, but I can’t know it’s because they are angry unless I ask.  I can see someone with a furrowed brow, but I can’t know if they are frustrated with me unless I ask.

Learning the skill of only describing things I can actually see, and not describing others emotions is a part of the DBT classes I’m in but it’s a skill that is taking time to learn.  New skills are hard work to integrate.  When you need them the most, they come to you the least.

But I’m learning to ask questions and find out what people are feeling, and I’m trying to surround myself with people who will tell me their honest feelings up front, and people who I am comfortable asking about their feelings.

I’m also working on not caring so damn much, but that’s a harder skill to learn.

Harder

This is a Really Real Widow Post.

I’m ready for this day to be over.

It started off with video games and cuddles and a big home cooked breakfast, and it is ending with tears and writing, and in between there was a lot of cooking and eating and smiles with heartache behind them.

And the thing is, I don’t miss her all that much today.  Or at least, not that much more than normal.  It’s not like there was an extra helping of missing her for Christmas, but there was still an extra helping of grief.

It still made today harder.

Today was a nothing special kind of day.  We did dinner at Mickey’s house and I took the ham and green beans.  I shouldn’t have been stressed, it was no big deal, but underneath it all was this weight.

The weight of widowhood.

The weight I never get to sit down.

I don’t think about it all of the time, but on holidays it’s there.  Adding to the stress, subtracting from the joy.

It makes everything harder, every single day.

But today I could really feel it.  Today it pulled at me and tugged at me and I had a hard time holding myself together.

Today was just harder without her, not just because I miss her, I’ve learned to live around that, but just because of the weight that’s left because she’s gone.

Widowing isn’t easy.